THE SUN IS YOUR ENEMY
R/SF PROJECTS, SAN FRANCISCO
MARCH – APRIL 2018
Comprising sculptural elements from resin-encrusted fabrics to recontextualized expatriate photos intermixed with myriad natural and artificial light sources, The Sun Is Your Enemy investigates a panoply of sociopolitical issues linked by visibility and resistance.
The exhibition retools the materiality and aesthetics of light as a metaphor for perception at large. Upon entering the gallery, viewers are greeted by a nearly 18 foot hanging LED fixture which emanates a vibrant glow atop a corresponding rectangle of powdered titanium dioxide (a pigment found in stars and now used in everyday materials such as sunscreen, paint, and food coloring). From above, its matte aluminum casing mimics the interference patterns of light waves, extracted from physics textbooks, to contrast the distinctly artificial luminescence with both the imagery of light itself, and the material byproduct of celestial bodies—effectively analogizing the forms of light as we know it. Where the fixture transports what is characteristically overhead lighting to its position nine inches off the ground, three gaping holes cut into the gallery flooring further this endeavor to reposition light as a central object rather than mere context. Here, submerged bulbs intermingle with ducting and architectural detritus, adding an archaeological angle of excavation and layered history that reveals the artist’s propensity to ground each piece with both narrative context and site-specificity.
The Sun Is Your Enemy further turns to the curvilinear forms of Fresnel lenses, once the most cutting-edge technology behind maritime navigation and naval lighthouses, to spotlight social tools of power—as well as segue into dialogues around surveillance, and even colonialism. Dual eight-by-five foot flags draped across the gallery’s façade windows and an aluminum print at the top of the stairs depict varying concave and convex lenses, hinting at the invisible actors behind dominion and control. On the back gallery wall, an opaque glass text piece reads “COMMITTEE FOR PROTECTION FROM LOUBOUTIN,” echoed by several others housed in an archival display upstairs. Reappropriating absurdist Russian protest signs known as monstrations, the works call to loophole behaviors used to circumnavigate legal complications where illegibility and ‘invisibility’ are rendered as effective as direct action. Here, the work serves to document these ephemeral gestures and give them permanent form, placing artist in a citational role that blurs the line between creator and curator.
The exhibition inserts itself into a trajectory of artists refashioning light as a medium, specifically those linking its materiality to sociopolitical contexts, as it relates to notions of identity and personal history. In this way, the exhibition’s utilization of charged objects as anecdotal conduits and history as a ready-made recall the likes of Danh Vo, while the open-ended nature of the work and queer underpinnings bear semblance to Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The Sun Is Your Enemy encapsulates countless would-be forgotten tales into a veritable wunderkammer, allowing viewers to draw connections between the stories in an over-arching meditation upon how we navigate the world.
*During the opening reception, Fundación Nites presented a work that blends sound, translation, and performance. Visual and aural elements reveal various transmission styles of literature, speech, and chorus. In response to the positioning of light-as-material, Fundación Nites’ work moves towards sound-compressing-experience.
Snake on Sand, Orchids that had 1st prize, and Orchids were loaned with generous support from the Expatriate Archive Centre.